chapter  12
24 Pages

The Role of the Military

The image of the samurai is one of the conventional images of Japan familiar to many foreigners. The importance attached to the samurai is not a mistaken one; the samurai were Japan’s ruling class from the twelfth century and the concept of the samurai ideal, the warrior ethic, was fundamental to the development of Japanese culture in the years prior to the Meiji period. Samurai lost their formal status in the early 1870s, but the samurai ideal remained powerful, and the military forces built up during the Meiji period played a crucial role in national affairs up to 1945.